Veronica Mars is good escapist entertainment, even if it is imperfect.
Chief amongst its flaws is an opaque mystery. The clues Veronica (Kristen Bell) uses to exonerate Logan (Jason Dohring) are not sufficient for the viewer to solve the crime along with her, especially because they center on a nine-year-old event that is not shown to us. We can be entertained by Veronica’s efforts, but we are not simultaneous sleuths.
Something that distances us from the film.
As does writer/director Rob Thomas and co-writer Diane Ruggiero’s decision to bypass potentially emotional scenes. When Veronica should worry about her father, for instance, the filmmakers do not immerse in her experience. Instead, they cut to she and Logan driving home. And then rapidly return to her investigation.
In many ways, then, Veronica Mars’ characters are secondary to its plot.
Which, given Veronica’s complexity, is lamentable. Were the filmmakers willing to explore her emotions, she could be a vibrant, mulit-faceted character.
Logan, Keith (Enrico Colantoni) and Stosh Piznarski (Chris Lowell), while not three-dimensional, are sufficiently complex, as well.
The rest of the secondary characters, however, blend together (at least for viewers unfamiliar with the television show). Here the other characters are traitless plot devices, not compelling people.
Even so, Veronica Mars mostly survives poor development of Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Mac (Tina Majorino), Gia (Krysten Ritter), Cobb (Martin Starr) and the rest, courtesy of its witty protagonist. She makes the film fun (and funny).
In no small part because of Kristen Bell’s performance. Her Veronica is sexy, intelligent, sarcastic and incredibly funny. It’s easy to understand how this character launched her career.
The other performers are strong, too, especially Enrico Colantoni, whom I wish had additional screen time. He’s very good as Veronica’s simultaneous supporter and challenger.
Veronica Mars is not going to win any awards. And many viewers will forget what happens in it, but courtesy of strong performances and a funny screenplay, it remains entertaining.